How to go to Art School Without Going to Art School

This is as much a list for me as it is for my readers. And is probably biased towards painting. 


Copy other artists work. This is quite literally getting a direct transmission from the artist through their work. You retrace their brush strokes and you learn how they paint. You will probably teach yourself completely different ways of making the same marks. Obviously in this case it is a STUDY, don't go around saying it's yours. Studies are done in art school ALL THE TIME so no need to feel guilty, plus instead of copying someone irrelevant to you, you can copy one of your favourite artists! 


Go to life drawing class. Drawing from life is very valuable practise that can’t be replicated. You could also draw your friends, get them to get naked for you and have a drawing party with a bunch of friends. Take it in turns being the subject.

Draw from magazines.

Draw a plant

Draw the city

Draw a bridge

Draw a park

Draw your hand

Draw your bedroom

Draw your house

Draw your favourite object

Wrap your favourite object in paper and draw it again

Unwrap it, blindfold yourself and draw it again via touch

Draw it again without looking at the page (aka blind contour drawing)

Draw a photo you found on the internet (beware of copyright laws on this, I am PRETTY SURE you can only do this for personal use. Don’t quote me on this, do your research! If you intend to sell the work, then make sure you get permission from the person who took the original photo or use royalty free stock images.) Or you could take a photo and draw it.

You wanna learn to draw faces? Well guess what, you have a face, I’m pretty sure someone else told me this and it blew my mind.

Draw from the mirror. You probably also have a phone with a camera on it. Draw your selfies. 

Go to the museum and draw a statue or a sculpture - this is how the old masters learned!



Something I learned in my very first workshop was that using a reference photo is totally fine! For some reason I thought I had to be able to yank a perfect face out of thin air. Maybe some people can do that but for most of us, it's MUSCLE MEMORY. The reason why the pros can do it is cause they've done it before a hundred times. Wonder why almost every face I draw has the same lips as me? Because my hand remembers how to draw my lips. This is why life drawing is important - there are infinite face/body shapes, and the more you draw, the more variety your muscle memory accumulates.



Test out new materials. Found some weird unknown materials at the art store? Let your curiosity take control and see what happens! It could spark inspiration! This is what happened for me with Polymer Clay. I stumbled upon it to make some rune stones and youtubed how to use it. All of a sudden I was inspired to make jewellery. This became my primary income for a year in 2015.


 Go dumpster diving and find a whole heap of shit to make art from


"Universitat de youtube” yes, pretty much everything you ever wanted to learn is on youtube!  

Wanna learn oil painting? Youtube

Glazing? Youtube

Photoshop? Youtube 

Figure drawing? Cross hatching? Digital art? Print making? Photography? Perspective drawing? Ceramic? Polymer clay? How to clean behind your ears? Youtube

ALL my teachers in art school used youtube as a teaching tool. So why not skip the teacher part and just go on youtube yourself. 


Go to the library and seek out art books, trawl instagramgoogle the artist, google their techniques, youtube the shit out of them. 

Find how-to books in the library. Educate yourself for free.


When I was first becoming interested in visionary art I found an online tutorial of how to do the mischtechnik, a layered oil/egg tempera technique used by many visionary artists. I then went on to learn this technique from a few different artists, and now its part of my painting repertoire! 


Read BIG MAGIC. This is the best book I’ve ever read and should be #1 on this list. 

Read THE ARTIST’S WAY Admittedly I haven’t read it yet BUT its been recommended to me by 101 people and is on my bookshelf ready to go.


Seek out artists you admire and learn from them. Many of the artists I admire hold workshops around the world. You may have to travel to get to them but maybe that’s part of the fun. This could be in the form of going on retreats. I have done two amazing retreats at Art in Paradise Byron Bay which have been the most incredible, soul nourishing experiences on every level of my being. I have come out of both of them exploding with inspiration. Couldn’t be a more different feeling than drudging out art school. If visionary art isn’t your thing, then seek out retreats within the medium or movement that you’re interested in. If your favourite artists don’t hold workshops then why not send them an email and ask? 

You could even end up becoming an apprentice to a master if that is what you so desire.


Take short courses. The people you’re learning from will most likely be passionate about what they do and full of the creative spark, thus transferring that to you! Short courses are particularly valid if you want to try something that requires a lot of set up costs, for example ceramics or glassblowing. 


Write Blog Posts I have just realised this is exactly like having assignments set for you - except you set them yourself and are researching things that you find interesting and WANT to speak about! Fuck yes! 


This is by no means an exhaustive list, feel free to add more in the comments